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Recent flooding brings city, parish officials together with business leaders - Thursday, June 8, 2017

Original Article

Widespread flooding, unprecedented in some instances, recently in Iberia Parish prompted a meeting of parish and New Iberia city officials who sat down and talked with local business owners who were most affected by heavy rainfall in May.

A group of about 30 people met Wednesday afternoon in the conference room of the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce for a presentation and question-and-answer session with New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt and Iberia Parish President Larry Richard. Flooding was first and foremost on their mind.

In the city, DeCourt said there was an unprecedented lack of flow within New Iberiaís wastewater system recently, particularly in areas like Lewis and Dale streets and Jefferson Terrace Boulevard.

"We wanted to find out the problem,Ē DeCourt said. "In my lifetime Lewis Street and Jefferson Terrace have not flooded the way they flooded. It does seem things are worse and it does seem water is not flowing.Ē

During the recent flooding, some water in those areas seemed to not drain at all until after the storm. There also are problems with state roads that arenít under the care of city or parish officials.

"At first I thought itís so clogged,Ē he said. "Weíve cleaned every drain on Lewis Street. We did find one crosspipe that was plugged but all the rest of them are clean. Thatís not the problem.Ē

Finding the reason has been a challenge that DeCourt said hasnít been met yet. However, dirty pipes and clogging from litter, trees and shrubbery were certainly a problem in some drains in the city, he said

Richard gave an overview of parishwide drainage systems, some of which havenít been cleaned in ages, and the Iberia Parish Council will be acting soon to approve funding to that effect, he said.

"I donít want to tell you how long some of them havenít been cleaned,Ē Richard said.

DeCourt and Richard said both governmental agencies were under a tight budget when it came to drainage, and intergovernmental agreements between both entities would be likely in the future.  A project to improve drainage on Jefferson Terrace was cut short earlier this year when DeCourt had to stop near the railroad tracks until more money was put into the budget.

"Iíve never seen a gathering like this in my many years, particularly in the areas weíre talking about, so I feel confident that our leaders are going to help us get rid of this problem,Ē Ted Haik, a local lawyer, said at the meeting.


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